RECIPE: Make Leftie Lee’s Hawaiian Mac Salad

Leftie Lee's Hawaiian Mac Salad. (Courtesy of Vivian Lee)

Credit: Courtesy of Vivian Lee

Credit: Courtesy of Vivian Lee

Leftie Lee's Hawaiian Mac Salad. (Courtesy of Vivian Lee)

From our visits to Hawaii we have come to love crispy Spam, which is available on the brunch menu at Leftie Lee’s, and Hawaiian macaroni salad. The version of that salad at Leftie Lee’s is outstanding. Will Vivian (Lee) share the recipe? — Sal Anderson, Decatur

This Hawaiian mac salad has been on the Leftie Lee’s menu since the bakery and sandwich shop opened in June 2023. Most traditional versions are made with elbow macaroni, but chef-owner Vivian Lee switched up the pasta choice and our photo shows it made with cavatappi.

“The reason we changed the recipe to cavatappi is we just thought it was more fun,” Lee wrote when she sent the recipe. I think our guests love the mac salad because it’s a no-frills, simple mac salad with good flavor. I loved it the first time I had it in Hawaii and always wanted to serve this at the shop.”

Tossing the warm pasta with the vinegar helps the pasta absorb the vinegar before being coated with the dressing.

At the restaurant the side dish serving is 1/2 cup. It is also sold in half-pound containers from the cold case.

Leftie Lee’s Hawaiian Mac Salad

1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise

1/4 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 small onion

2 carrots, trimmed and peeled

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste


Sliced green onions, for garnish

Cook macaroni or cavatappi according to package directions until soft and slightly overcooked, about 14 minutes.

When pasta is done, drain and put into a large bowl. Toss with apple cider vinegar and let pasta cool.

While pasta is cooling, stir mayonnaise, milk and sugar together in a small bowl.

Puree onion in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Transfer onion puree to a medium bowl. Replace the food processor blade with the grating disk and grate carrots. Add grated carrots to bowl with pureed onion.

Toss cooled pasta with the mix of carrots and onion and then add the mayonnaise mixture. Toss together and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve, garnished with sliced green onions.

Makes 8 cups.

Per 1/2 cup serving: 159 calories (percent of calories from fat, 32), 4 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams total sugars, 1 gram fiber, 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 71 milligrams sodium.

From the menu of ... Leftie Lee’s, Olive + Pine, 6 Olive St., Avondale Estates; 404-224-9659,

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